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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: June 8, 2015 02:05 PM
From: Representative Jeffrey P. Pyle
To: All House members
Subject: Proposed Legislation – Surveillance while trespassing in a private place
 
In the near future, I am planning to reintroduce former House Bill 452. This piece of legislation will Amend Title 18 (Crimes Code) by adding a new section making it illegal for a person to engage in surveillance while trespassing in a private place.

In the past, I received a rash of complaints from constituents about individuals surreptitiously AND obviously trespassing on their property to “spy” on them (and their guests). Specifically, it has gotten to the point that some folks are using technology (like unmanned radio-controlled helicopters equipped with high-definition video equipment) to intrude on their neighbors’ privacy.

I was a little skeptical myself, but after doing a little investigation of my own, I found that the equipment needed can be relatively inexpensive. Here’s a video on how to build a spy helicopter on a shoestring budget:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKKZL1VZ06E.

For the real enthusiast, a “peeper” can get into a serious aircraft/camera outfit for thousands of dollars, like this one:
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZ3sa1iGcZo&NR=1).

Whether we’re talking about someone “peeping” in a bedroom window or spying on a neighbor’s pool party, every Pennsylvanian should have an expectation of privacy in their homes/on their private property and invasive conduct like this should be prohibited. It’s up to us, as lawmakers, to ensure that the Crimes Code keeps up with today’s technology.

I looked through the criminal provisions for “trespassing” and “invasion of privacy” and found that neither statute fit the circumstances described above. So I drafted legislation that makes it a crime to “engage in surveillance while trespassing in a private place.” My legislation defines each term – “surveillance,” “trespassing” and “private place” – so that we address only the offending behavior. The bill also makes specific exceptions for legitimate law enforcement activities and manned aircraft flying in navigable air space.

Finally, my legislation provides stepped penalties for this offense, similar to what the Commonwealth already does for “invasion of privacy.” A single offense under this new section would be graded as a summary offense; while multiple offenses (or instances where there are multiple victims) would be graded as a misdemeanor of the third degree.

Last session House Bill 452 passed the House unanimously but the Senate failed to bring it up for consideration.

Please consider joining me in sponsoring this legislation.

Former HB 452 Cosponsors: PYLE, KNOWLES, METCALFE, BROOKS, MOUL, SACCONE, TALLMAN, M. K. KELLER, CUTLER, HARHAI, AUMENT, SAYLOR, KAUFFMAN, HICKERNELL, SWANGER, EMRICK, DUNBAR, O'NEILL, PICKETT, MILLARD, MAJOR, GRELL, BAKER, REESE, EVERETT, BOBACK, HESS, KORTZ, FLECK, C. HARRIS, READSHAW, OBERLANDER, CLYMER, ROCK, GROVE, HEFFLEY, MARSICO, MURT, STEVENSON, EVANKOVICH, GILLEN, GERGELY, GIBBONS, FARRY, CALTAGIRONE and TOOHIL



Introduced as HB1339